Anne pointed out, and responded to, a repellent column in Foreign Policy Journal by a man named Richard Falk, titled “A Commentary on the Marathon Murders.” You almost have to read it to believe it, but here are a few excerpts:
[T]he neocon presidency of George W. Bush was in 2001, prior to the attacks, openly seeking a pretext to launch a regime-changing war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and the 9/11 events, as interpreted and spun, provided just the supportive domestic climate needed for launching an aggressive war against the Baghdad regime. The Iraq War was undertaken despite the UN Security Council failure to lend its authority to such an American deadly geopolitical venture and in the face of the largest anti-war global demonstrations in human history. In 2001, the preferred American grand strategy, as blueprinted by the ideologues of the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution, was given a green light by the Bush/Cheney White House even in the face of the red lights posted both at the UN and in the streets of 600 or more cities around the world.
Every word of this is false, but what it has to do with the terrorist attack in Boston is anyone’s guess.
Obama came to Washington as outspoken opponent of torture and of the Iraq War. He also arrived after the failed wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, which had devastated two countries, seemingly beyond foreseeable recovery, while adding nothing to American security, however measured. These unlawful wars wasted trillions expended over the several years during which many Americans were enduring the hardships and pain of the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. In other words, temporarily at least, the Beltway think tanks and the government are doing their best to manage global crises without embarking on further wars in a spirit of geopolitical intoxication that was hallmark of the unipolar moment that was invoked by Republicans to chide the Clinton presidency for its wimpish failure to pursue American strategic interests in the Middle East.
Huh? Besides being a lousy writer, this guy is starting to come across as insane. But wait; there is more.
At least it seems that for the present irresponsible and unlawful warfare are no longer the centerpiece of America’s foreign policy, as had become the case in the first decade of the 21st century, although this is far from a certainty. The war drums are beating at this moment in relation to both North Korea and Iran, and as long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.
Tel Aviv? Huh? We are evidently in the presence of one of those obsessives who cause you to start edging toward the door. Falk goes on to argue that Boston had it coming:
Unlike the aftermath of 9/11, there are a few hopeful signs of awakening to this one-eyed vision on the part of the citizenry. Listening to a PBS program hours after the Boston event, I was struck by the critical attitudes of several callers to the radio station: “It is horrible, but we in this country should not be too surprised, given our drone attacks that have killed women and children attending weddings and funerals in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Another caller asked, “Is this not a kind of retribution for torture inflicted by American security forces acting under the authority of the government, and verified for the world by pictures of the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib?” And another asked, “In light of the authoritative reports of officially sanctioned torture as detailed in the 577 page report of a task force chaired by two former senators, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, and containing senior military and security officials, has not the time come to apply the law to the wrongdoers during the Bush presidency?” … Should we not all be meditating on W.H. Auden’s haunting line: “Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return”?
I think all of this is a fabrication. In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist bombing, PBS callers were generally convinced that the terrorists were Tea Partiers, not Muslims seeking revenge for Abu Ghraib.
In some respects, the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks, and these may yet happen, especially if there is no disposition to rethink US relations to others in the world, starting with the Middle East. Some of us naively hoped that Obama’s Cairo speech of 2009 was to be the beginning of such a process of renewal, and although timid in many ways, it was yet possessed of a tonality candidly acknowledged that relations with the Islamic world needed fundamental moves by the US Government for the sake of reconciliation, including the adoption of a far more balanced approach to the Palestine/Israel impasse. But as the months passed, what became evident, especially given the strong pushback by Israel and its belligerent leader, Bibi Netanyahu, were a series of disappointing reactions by Obama, which could be described as an accelerating backpedaling in relation to opening political space in the Middle East.
Once again, we are in Never-Never land. What do Israel and the Palestinians have to do with the Chechnyan-American Boston bombers? Nothing. Yet, here comes the climax:
Now at the start of his second presidential term, it seems that Obama has given up altogether, succumbing to the Beltway ethos of Israel First. … Obama’s March trip to Israel was highlighted by his March 21st speech in Jerusalem, which was delivered as a love letter to the Israeli public rather than qualifying as a good faith effort to demonstrate his belief in a just peace. Such obsequious diplomacy was a disappointment even to those of us with low expectations in what the White House is willing to overcome the prolonged ordeal of the Palestinian people.
We seem to be far afield from the Boston Massacre. Mr. Falk concludes:
We should be asking ourselves at this moment, “How many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?”
The canaries, I take it, are Bostonians.
Now, I am not a psychiatrist, but I have no hesitation in asserting that Richard Falk is a psychopath. He exhibits the loose, obsessive associations, always circling back to his own demented frame of reference, that we associate with mental illness. He obviously hates the United States, and is bizarrely obsessed with Israel–a country which, to state the obvious, had nothing at all to do with the Boston attacks. So Richard Falk is a nut; a crank whose ravings are entitled to no more notice than those of a commenter at the Daily Kos who went off his medications.
But here’s the thing: Richard Falk may be a mental case, but he is also the United Nations’ “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” That’s right: he is the designated U.N. expert on Israel and the Palestinians, and has been since 2008, even though he thinks the Bush administration planned the September 11 attacks. The U.N.’s point man on the Palestinians is a nut.
In conclusion, let’s turn the floor over to Anne Bayefsky:
For years, Falk has been espousing the worst forms of antisemitism from his UN perch, and for his efforts has been rewarded with repeated opportunities by the [U.N. Human Rights] Council to lecture others on his world view.
That world view is shared by the 56 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), who only a week ago at UN Headquarters refused to define terrorism unless an exception clause was created for “legitimate struggle.”
The OIC controls the balance of power at the UN’s top human rights body, by holding majorities in both the African and Asian regional groups. Africa and Asia, in turn, control 26 of the 47 seats on the Council. With the backing of the OIC, therefore, Falk has been encouraged and protected.
The Obama administration has long championed the UN Human Rights Council, which it decided to join as one of its first foreign policy moves in 2009. Thanks to the Obama administration, U.S. began a second three-year term on the Council this past January. At the opening of the Council’s most recent session in March, Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer traveled to Geneva to address what she called “this esteemed body.”
There is nothing about a “human rights” body that countenances the likes of Richard Falk that is “esteemed,” and the United States should resign–effective immediately.
And Mr. Falk should seek treatment for his mental illness.